Nepal confirms ‘many deaths’ in Qatar as show says figure as high as 1,400

Nepal's Labor Ministry has confirmed many stadium deaths in Qatar. (AFP)
Updated 11 June 2019

Nepal confirms ‘many deaths’ in Qatar as show says figure as high as 1,400

NEW DELHI: The Nepali government said there have been “many deaths” in Qatar, following a TV documentary claim that 1,400 workers have died while helping to build football stadiums for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

German broadcaster WDR’s investigative show, “Trapped in Qatar,” exposed the plight of workers who endured squalid living conditions and perilous building sites.

A spokesman for the Labor Ministry said he was unaware of the documentary but confirmed many Nepalis had died in the Gulf state.

“It is a fact that many Nepali workers have lost their lives in Qatar over the years,” Narayan Ragmi told Arab News. “I don’t have any information regarding the documentary right now, I am not in a situation to tell you how many people lost their lives in Qatar. But that many people lost their lives in Qatar, that is true. Since the time we started sending our laborers to Qatar some people have lost their lives. I am not sure whether it is 1,400 or 200 or 300. I must verify this number with the authorities directly concerned with the issue.”

Ragmi said there was a memorandum of understanding with Doha, as well as a bilateral agreement, when it came to Nepali laborers. Workers were briefed before leaving Nepal and went through a pre-departure orientation program, he added.

Accidents and poor living conditions were claiming around 110 lives every year, according to Nepali government figures. Bereaved families of dead workers told WDR they had received no compensation from Doha.

Janak Sapkota, a Katmandu-based journalist who has been reporting on labor migration from Nepal, said workers suffered terribly.

“Most of the international companies working in Qatar do not meet safety requirements and as a result many construction workers lose their lives through this gross negligence of proper safety,” he told Arab News. “The living conditions are also very bad, the salary is too low and also exploitative. A few years back the plight of Nepali migrant workers in Qatar was very bad but, after the matter was raised and debate took place around that, Qatari companies took steps to respect the rights of the workers, but they are still not sufficient.”

Barun Ghimire, a Nepal-based human rights activist and lawyer, said employers in Qatar had failed to create working conditions to safeguard the health of workers.

“There have been reports that many Nepali workers have died either in the construction of stadiums or something related to stadiums in Qatar. We tried to establish a case against employers, but they are difficult to investigate because of the chain brokers involved in recruiting the workers,” he told Arab News, referring to people or firms who organized recruitment.

He said up to 1,300 migrant workers departed Nepal on a daily basis for Gulf-based jobs, and that a substantial number went to Qatar. He added that several dead migrant workers were repatriated to Nepal every day.

“I have also found that there is no proper documentation for Nepali workers as a result it’s not easy to establish the culpability of the company. It is difficult to establish the accountability of the companies involved in the preparation of the FIFA World Cup. A lack of transparency in the recruitment process allows companies to escape litigation.”

A journalist who was posted in Qatar four years ago —  and did not wish to disclose his name — said there were other problems that needed addressing too. “Whether one agrees with the casualty figures of the German documentary or not, there have been cases of delayed payments to workers, a high number of heart attack cases, delayed medical responses and bad living conditions,” he told Arab News.

He said living conditions in migrant worker camps had improved and that this change might be because of international pressure. 

Saudi Arabia’s biggest celebration of motor racing returns with Formula E back at Ad Diriyah

Updated 42 min 55 sec ago

Saudi Arabia’s biggest celebration of motor racing returns with Formula E back at Ad Diriyah

  • The event will take place on Nov. 22 and 23
  • Two major races will take place in this year’s E-Prix, which made its Middle East debut in the Kingdom last year

RIYADH: This year’s Formula E season will kick off with a doubleheader in Ad Diriyah in November, backed by a huge festival of off-track action, music, culture and heritage.

The 2019 “Saudia” Ad Diriyah E-Prix promises to eclipse the inaugural 2018 edition, with two races, instead of one, being staged at the stunning UNESCO world heritage site of Ad Diriyah, and with crowds of up to 100,000 expected to attend.

Last year’s sell-out E-Prix featured music icons such as David Guetta, Enrique Iglesias, One Republic and the Black-Eyed Peas, performing as part of the racing championship’s debut in the Middle East.

2019 will see Porsche and Mercedes competing for the first time, boosting the number of cars on the track. Plus, Ad Diriyah will be ready to welcome even more international tourists, after the surrounding At-Turaif district finalizes its ambitious development program.

Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, chairman of the General Sports Authority (GSA), said: “Formula E’s arrival in the Kingdom was a watershed moment for us, one that thousands witnessed together.

“The 2018 ‘Saudia’ Ad Diriyah E-Prix excited our nation through its exhilarating action, heroes and entertainment. Thanks to the ambitions of Vision 2030, it was the biggest festival of sport, music and culture the Kingdom has ever seen.

“This year we look forward to igniting an even bigger season of motor racing for Formula E, to welcome even more international visitors, and to create another unforgettable moment for our people.”

In a recent interview with the UAE’s The National newspaper, DJ David Guetta hailed the 2018 event, which included the country’s first unsegregated concerts.

“I’m really proud that I’ve done this. There is obviously a very big effort in Saudi to open to music and to artists. And as an artist, I play for the people and the people were obviously so happy,” he said.

“It was incredible to see men and women dancing and letting go of everything. It was a great honor for me to be part of this.”

Last year saw travelers from 80 different countries flock to the event, taking advantage of the first-ever 30-day tourism visas issued under the new online Sharek immigration system. For 2019 the process has been enhanced to make visiting the Kingdom even easier.

Second staging

The 2019 E-Prix will be the second of a 10-year partnership between Formula E, the GSA and the Saudi Arabian Motor Federation (SAMF). The event will be staged again by promoter CBX, which successfully created the racetrack and venue in the heart of the heritage site.

Prince Khalid bin Sultan Al-Faisal, president of SAMF, said: “In 2018 the track proved itself a world-class venue for motorsport, hailed by racers as one of the most exiting they have faced.

“This year sees even more teams enter the championship, with Porsche and Mercedes entering the fray. Last year Ad Diriyah was the launchpad for the new ‘Gen 2’ race cars and the exciting ‘Attack Zone’ innovation. This year will be the first time drivers will have an additional 10 kilowatts (kW) of power available when using the ‘Attack Mode,’ rising from 225kW to 235kW.

“Add to that, a double header — two races instead of one — with a total of 24 cars competing. This will fire up Saudi Arabia’s passion for motorsports, and we are ready to welcome Formula E back.”